Get the Strap


Glitched-up hip-hop defines Tago’s playful, defiant stride of “D.A.M.N.”

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Samples are sped up, chopped, and distorted beyond recognition. Best of all is his vocal delivery, which possesses a well-earned swagger. Incurably optimistic, Tago emphasizes looking at the positive side of things rather than dwelling in darkness. The whole thing is life-affirming by giving the song multiple aspects, from the undeniable catchy hook to the unique rhythm that anchors it. Word choice matters, for he makes sure to completely mess with listener expectations, refusing to stay put in a single space. Much of the song has an origami-like folding and unfolding as if each letdown presents a distinct opportunity.
The unique production style draws from the wild, unhinged approach of early Prefuse 73, capturing a gleeful take on production, bringing the track to the cutting floor, and reconfiguring it in kaleidoscopic, even psychedelic ways. For the reflective kick, Tago recalls Aesop Rock’s ability to incorporate his life into the sound, not doing so directly but creating a clever narrative from the many different verses. He combines these verses into this fractured fairy tale sort of scenario. On the more sun-drenched approach, the song has an almost cartoon-like aesthetic, morphed textures, and unusual word choice, drawing from Busta Rhymes. With all these new and old references, Tago crafts a unique world.
From the very start, he holds nothing back. Immediately, the listener gets thrown into the mix, and the tempo matches the sheer velocity he takes on. Speeding through the entire track’s duration allows the song to have this hopefulness as if each obstacle is a challenge to be met rather than something to feel defeated by. With this opportunity taken, he ensures that the listener gets the sense of a constant moving forward, a refusal to stop. This good-natured attitude carries the track. While the verses reflect upon some of Tago’s hardships, his desire to name the track “D.A.M.N” is almost a joke, as if he’s laughing at the fact that life keeps throwing things at him because these problems don’t stop him.
“D.A.M.N” revels in small structures, tiny details amplified in a vast space, showing off the strength of Tago’s lyricism.
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